ST. ELIZABETH, Mo. — St. Elizabeth starting pitcher Aaron Blomberg was blunt in his assessment of his first inning performance Wednesday.
"A little shaky," Blomberg said.
It got better. Blomberg settled in and went the distance as the Hornets defeated the Pilot Grove Tigers 11-1 in the Class 1 District 10 Tournament title game.
"It's been a heck of a job by these kids all year," St. Elizabeth coach Caleb Heckemeyer said.
It's the fourth straight district championship for the Hornets, who finished second in the state tournament last year.
"After last year's run, these guys know they can battle back," Heckemeyer said.
St. Elizabeth (14-4, ranked No. 3) will play at Northwest: Hughesville (17-8, ranked No. 6) in the sectional Monday. Northwest blanked Lakeland 6-0 on Wednesday to win the District 10 tournament title.
In the top of the first, the Tigers scored a run on three hits.
"I knew they had some good hitters at the top of the lineup and they jumped on him," Heckemeyer said. "There was just a couple of mistakes on our part.
"It made me a little nervous with them getting that run, but the kids stuck with it."
Blomberg came back with a nine-pitch second inning to set down the Tigers in order. The Hornets broke on the board in the bottom of the inning.
Dylan Wobbe walked to start the inning before advancing to third on a double by Carson Kesel. Kendal Bax then doubled to right to plate Wobbe and Kesel to give St. Elizabeth the lead.
"It was a real momentum shift," Blomberg said.
The Hornets increased their advantage in the third. Nolan Heckemeyer led off with a walk before Blomberg singled to put runners at first and second. Coltin Green hit a liner to right that fell in front of the outfielder, but Blomberg was stuck between first and second to make sure the ball wasn't caught.
But the Tigers didn't catch the throw to the infield at second base as Blomberg was safe. Heckemeyer later came home on a throwing error. One out later, Kesel was intentionally walked before Bax picked up his third and fourth RBI of the game with a single to make it 5-1.
Bax, a sophomore, had five hits in St. Elizabeth's two district tournament victories.
"He's seeing the ball really well right now," Caleb Heckemeyer said. "He's a big bat to have in the lineup."
Pilot Grove loaded the bases with two outs in the fourth, but Blomberg got a pop out to first to get out of the inning.
"He made the right pitch at the right time," Heckemeyer said.
St. Elizabeth got two more runs in its half of the fourth when Kesel hit a two-out single to score Brady Heckemeyer and Nolan Heckemeyer.
"Once we got rolling, it was contagious," Caleb Heckemeyer said.
Comfortably up by six runs, Blomberg started a 1-6-3 double play to end the fifth and set down the Tigers in order in the sixth.
The Hornets closed the game by run-rule with four runs in the sixth. Wobbe, Kesel and Brandon Irwin had the RBI before Brady Heckemeyer brought home the game-ender with a sacrifice fly.
"We're not stopping here, hopefully we can keep it going until the end of May," Blomberg said.
Blomberg finished with a six-hitter. He didn't allow a walk while striking out nine.
"It's not just me that works hard, it's all nine players out there," Blomberg said.
St. Elizabeth and Northwest met in the sectional round last year, with the Hornets picking up a 6-5 victory.
"It's going to be a tough game, we are going to have to be focused," Caleb Heckemeyer said. "We have one goal down, but we still have two big games ahead of us to get the next one."
The sectional start time has yet to be announced.